Israel releases 39 Palestinians while Hamas frees 24 hostages

The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas began on November 24, setting the stage for the exchange and allowing sorely needed aid to start flowing into Gaza.

November 24, 2023 09:46 pm | Updated November 25, 2023 07:45 pm IST - DEIR AL-BALAH,

Members of the media work at the Rafah border crossing, amid of a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel, as seen from southern Gaza Strip on November 24, 2023.

Members of the media work at the Rafah border crossing, amid of a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel, as seen from southern Gaza Strip on November 24, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Israel confirmed on Friday that it released 39 Palestinian prisoners in line with a truce deal that saw 13 Israeli hostages freed by militants in Gaza hours earlier.

Qadura Fares, who heads an advocacy group for prisoners, said 33 prisoners freed in the West Bank were handed to a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross. He said the remaining six were being freed from a Jerusalem lockup.

The releases on both sides were part of a deal for a four-day truce in the Israel-Hamas war that began on Friday. Over the next four days, 150 Palestinian prisoners and 50 Israeli hostages are to be freed.

Meanwhile, Hamas released 24 hostages who had been held captive in Gaza for weeks, including 13 Israelis, 10 persons from Thailand and one from the Philippines, according to Qatar.

The agreement opened the way for sorely needed aid to flow into Gaza for beleaguered residents. It was also a moment of hope for families in Israel and elsewhere worried about loved ones taken captive during Hamas’s October 7 attack, which triggered the war. With the truce’s start on Friday morning, Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians saw quiet for the first time after seven weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment, which has killed thousands and driven three-quarters of the population from their homes. Rocket fire from Gaza militants into Israel went silent as well.

Israel says the ceasefire could be extended if more hostages are released, but it has vowed to resume its massive offensive once the truce ends.

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